Following the Met Office cold weather alert Level 2 across the North West, NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reminding people to stay warm and to examine their options should they or their family become ill.
The Level 2 alert means there is a very high probability of severe cold weather/icy conditions/heavy snow in parts of England. This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.
A spokesperson for the CCG said: “We’d like to remind people about the options available to them if they or a member of their family becomes ill. The cold weather will put added pressure on health services so it’s really important to use the right service. If you do become ill we ask that you think about self care before seeing your GP, visiting the walk in or dialling 999. Your chemist can offer advice and medication for common illnesses without an appointment and NHS 111 is available for non-emergencies.
We would also advise those who are eligible to have a flu jab to get protected. Whether you are pregnant, have very young children, are an elderly person or have a health condition, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes or are an older person you will be eligible for the vaccination.”
Some of the services are listed below and further information can be found on the Examine Your Options website.
- NHS 111 – When you need medical help or advice fast, but it is not a 999 emergency, you can also call the NHS 111 service. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
- GP out-of-hours service– For times when you need to see a doctor when your GP surgery is closed, GP out-of-hours services are available; just call 111 and you can speak to a local GP over the phone or face to face if necessary.
- Pharmacies– Pharmacists are qualified to offer advice on health issues and medication as well as treat coughs, colds and other common illnesses without an appointment. For those that wish to speak to a pharmacist in private, many have a consultation rooms away from customers to discuss health queries.
The Public Health England Cold Weather Plan sets out a series of actions that health and social care organisations, voluntary and community groups, and individuals can take and plan for cold temperatures to help reduce cold-related illnesses and deaths.
Top tips to prepare for colder weather:
- look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold and ensure they have access to warm food, drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately
- try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long term illness or are 65 or over
- stay tuned for weather forecasts, ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance (have deliveries or ask a friend to help)
- take weather into account when planning your activity over the following days
- avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls
- discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from in front of your house and public walkways nearby, if unable to do so yourself
West Lancashire Council for Voluntary Services have also released the following advice to help you stay warm during Winter: Stay Warm in Winter 2016